The Birth of Christ

Pietro Cavallini, The Birth of Christ, circa 1291. Detail of a mosaic,  Santa Maria Trasteverde, Rome.

Pietro Cavallini (1259–circa 1330) was a skilled mosaicist active in Rome in the late medieval period. Shown here is a detail from a Nativity scene created for the apse of the Basilica di Santa Maria Trasteverde in Rome. The Virgin Mary, shown far left with halo, is depicted with serene grace as she watches over the newborn baby Jesus. Nativity scenes, such as this one, were created to emphasis Luke’s viewpoint that God had chosen Jesus before he was born. Cavallini’s mosaics are praised for their realistic portrayal of figurative subjects and attempt at perspective composition, something that was not perfected until the 15th century. The mosaics also employ a departure from an earlier tradition in the use of bright color and shape.

Pietro Cavallini, The Birth of Christ. Detail of a mosaic depicting six scenes from the life of Mary, circa 1291. Santa Maria Trasteverde, Rome.

Of or relating to the Middle Ages, generally from the fifth century to the fifteenth century C.E. and overlapping somewhat with late antiquity.

Birth, often accounts about the birth of Jesus.

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